Book Review: The Raven Cycle (Raven Cycle #1-4) by Maggie Stiefvater

Nonspoilery:

So this is a review for the ENTIRE SERIES so don’t read ahead if you’re not 100% done. But basically this is a series about a small town. In it there’s a girl named Blue who is the daughter of psychics and a large all boys prep school where “The Raven Boys” go. It’s for the rich and well off but with magic and prophecy the two groups end up becoming friends and try to finish an epic quest, while many other dangers and types of magic come to light.

Spoilers Ahead!

So…the Raven Boys. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about this series. I think the first book was the best because there was a lot of potential. I liked all the characters, especially Ronan he was my favorite, but the story never really took off for me. To me the characters were all there. They were interesting and fun to read and the type of group I would want to be around and their personal stories are what really drew me into the story. What was missing for me was the concept. It was there. Starting with the ley line, and the hunt for Glendower, and this prophecy that Blue will kill her true love with a kiss but it felt like it was never fully developed and a little lacking.

 

 

It was Ronan’s first fight scene with Declan that pulled me into the story. And then I loved when he went missing. And we get to see his softer side with Chainsaw. But Ronan defending Adam. Even just the fact that we see him hit the brakes. Then when he steps in to save Adam despite the fact that it could get him kicked out of school without hesitation.  I would have loved to see him when he finds out Gansey was held at gunpoint. We only get that scene once everyone gets to Blue’s house but I would have liked to see Ronan when he first sees Gansey because I like when he gets all protective and fierce about his friends. I like when he’s pacing in the kitchen because the entire event has shaken him so much. I know in this book Blue sort of sets up Gansey and Adam as our leading men but Ronan really stole the show for me and I hope to see a lot more from him.

 

I liked the entire concept of looking for something and the corpse road and ley lines and looking for this old king but concept didn’t feel well developed. I felt a lot of the time they were looking for things or found things the scenes weren’t well explained or developed. Particularly at the end. Adam’s sacrifice did not really make a lot of sense to me. I don’t understand what he sacrificed, what changed, why couldn’t he be shot and then what made the beasts come out and trample the guy to death. It was in the development of explaining the magic, Cabeswater  that this book lost some of its interest. I am devoted into finding out what happens to the characters because I am drawn to their personalities and stories but not so much the overall story of how all this ley line stuff came together. My hope is that in the first book the author was still sorting out the concept and that it will really start to come together in the next few books.

In the second book the lack of concept only got worse. I really enjoyed how much it focused on Ronan, him being my favorite and all but the entire Kavinsky story line was just not enjoyable. I didn’t mind the hint that Ronan is gay at all, but I thought it was weird at the end with the giant dream monsters fighting. It felt over the top and like it didn’t fit with the story that was being told. And then in the end Kavinsky just dies? I did not enjoy the introduction of they Grey Man at first and the way they told his story. But he grew on me. However, at the end when he leaves to draw away the danger they make this whole big deal about it and then he deals with it in 2 minutes and thats that and he comes back and it’s all fine. Not sure what was going on with Adam in this one. Again the end of the first book was a little lacking in what happened with Adam and he was really an asshole for most of the second book until he has his little mental breakdown. All in all the second book was just too slow with the overall story progression and just seemed to introduce a lot of new story lines and concepts that strayed from the original concept, which wasn’t concrete enough to begin with.

I thought the third book was better than the second. I enjoyed the cave exploration, and Maura being missing. I enjoyed the first scene when they’re exploring the cave and Ronan saves everyone. I thought it was nice that we got to meet Malory. I’m glad Blue and Gansey’s obvious relationship finally starts taking effect. I did not however enjoy the Greenmantle chapters at all. I’m not a fan of the way they introduce the villian each book by having us follow them around for a few chapters. I don’t want to see what they’re up to, don’t care what kind of wine Greenmantle bought to go with his cheese. I enjoyed the introduction of Jesse as a character and enjoyed his relationship with Blue, so I was sad when he died at the end even thought we knew it was coming. Henry Cheng felt unimportant. Now having read the 4th book, I like that he is sort of a part of the group by the end so what I don’t like in hindsight is that they can’t integrate him in faster. He really isn’t important until the very end so up until then he’s just sort of annoying. I wish some of what happens with him in book 4 happened in book 3 so he at least seemed relevant for more than 10 chapters. Gwenllian was an interesting introduction. I’m glad she finally clued Blue in on what she can do (a little, not that we ever really get to see which is annoying).

The hands down best scene in this book was when Adam was in the courtroom and Gansey and Ronan come strolling through. It was as good as when Ronan comes back to save Adam from his dad in the first book. And it’s the beautiful moments like these where we can really see the friendship between he characters that has me torn about how to feel about these books. Because I really do like the characters and all their relationships with each other but the plot just wasn’t enjoyable enough. I kept having to walk away from these for a while because it just got too slow. Also the moment in the court was when Adam whining about pity and charity finally left. He finally let his friends do something nice for him because they wanted to. Another thing that made this book better was the exciting ending. The cave of bones, the animals, Ronan and Blue making it through together. Him saving her from stepping into the lake then giving up his light for her. The whole ending with the gray man and the guns and cave in.

But then we get to the fourth book which was good at times but so unbelievably slow in the middle and then rushed at the end. So we have the introduction of the new villains, Laumonier. At the end the Gray man kills one of them. But we never get to see the outcome of it. In fact we are left with a lot of lose ends:

-what happened to Noah?

-what happened with Artemus?

-what happened with the remaining Laumoniers?

-can blue turn into a tree?

-is Matthew ok? Does Ronan ever find a way to wake up his father’s dreams/save matthew if anything happens to him?

-what the heck was up with the end of the quest? Like after 4 full book Glendower is just dust? After all that with zero explanation???

The entire book was just so slow. There was that awful toga party and the stolen moments of romance between Blue and Gansey until they finally come clean. The romance with Adam and Ronan felt forced to me. We know Ronan is gay in book 2 but the connection with Adam just seems to come out of the blue and felt forced like she was trying to pair up the entire group. The story doesn’t even get exciting until Gansey runs off after the Ravens. Of course he finds Cheng and he becomes a big part of the final quest but I wish he’d been included earlier. I do love when Gansey is thinking about hornets and then Ronan Blue and Adam turn them to Leaves, Wind and Dust and then they’re there.

The ending after the big letdown of finding Glendower with Adam attacking Ronan and Ronan starting to be unmade was the kind of action the book needed more of but it felt so rushed. It’s literally Gansey dies and then he is fine again just like that because that’s the end. And we get almost no explanation and all sorts of unexplained lose ends that just really let down the whole series for me because like I said at the beginning it’s missing the concept.

So for ratings,

Book 1: 3 stars

Books 2: 2 stars

Book 3: 3 stars

Book 4: 2 stars

Overall Series Rating: 2.5 stars

 

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